Servicing the AC

Sometimes I’m really amazed by people in the worst way possible. Just when I think that people cannot stoop any lower than I’ve already experienced in my life, they surprise me. I’ve dealt with plenty of bad apples, including members of my own family, who were ready to screw anyone over at the drop of a hat. I have years of experience having to cohabitate with my oldest brother who was a serial thief, and I will never forget how horrifically stressful it is to feel like you have to watch all of your belongings every second of the day. I have to say, though, that he never tried to steal any components of our HVAC system, no matter how bad his situation was. That’s why I was so surprised to recently hear about a repeat case of stolen air conditioning units. Acquaintances of mine were telling me just the other day that they had not one, but two entire air conditioning units plucked straight out of their backyard. The central cooling units were both brand new and professionally installed by a local heating and cooling specialist. The first air conditioner mysteriously disappeared after it had been in use for roughly a month, the second AC unit was stolen only days after installation. These poor people were stuck living without any modern air temperature control for at least two miserably hot and humid months. The latest air conditioner is now locked up in a cage, and the owners are hopeful that their AC won’t walk off any time soon.

air conditioning unit

Fireplaces and the snow

I can’t wait for the snow to start falling.  There is something about snow, and cold weather, that gets the heart pumping, and makes you feel giddy.  My children used to love skiing, and they joined the ski club when they went to high school.  My daughter broke her leg because she tried to do the black diamond slope before she was ready.  By the end of winter, she was right back up there, and mastering the slopes again.  I have a good friend who did cross country skiing in the Olympics.  He wasn’t a name that will remain on everyone’s tongue forever, but he was able to make it to the Olympics, which is a big coup.  He took me cross country skiing once, and though it looks fairly simple, it is really quite difficult.  I was so happy when I was able to get back to the lodge, and give my leg muscles a rest.  I sat in front of the large fireplace, and I let the delicious warmth seep into my legs, and soothe the ache.  I found out that I really liked that fireplace, and I thought of it as being the best part of skiing.  I have a fireplace in my own home.  I go out in the snow with my grandchildren, and when it is time to come indoors, we head right for the fireplace.  Curling up with the crackle of the fire and heat pouring over you, lulls all of us to sleep, and it is the perfect ending to a cold, snowy day.

fireplace

There’s no electricity in here

My husband is very old school, and old fashioned, but last month he shocked me.  We have been discussing replacing the HVAC system in our home.  Lately we had problems where we needed to replace the boiler.  Many of our room heaters are no longer working properly, and we there is a constant draft in the house.  We’ve discussed different ways of putting HVAC in the house, and I was surprised at all of the new methods.  We were looking into electric heating, but our biggest concern is that if the electricity goes out, we are without heating or cooling.  The heating really isn’t a problem because we have a wood furnace to fall back on, and opening windows isn’t a big problem with the summer, but I’ve become used to our air conditioning.  Even with all of the new methods of HVAC, there are very few that can be operated without the help of electricity.  We talked about solar panels, but I recently read where the huge solar panels will soon be replaced with something smaller and more efficient.  My husbands wants to go with solar power that is created through heating water.  He is a very intelligent man, and I’m sure he could even run the air conditioning in this method, if it was necessary, but he procrastinates so much that he will never get it done.  I think I will just insist on keeping the generator running well, and we’ll get the mini-split that he suggested, for our air conditioning needs.  We may lose the electricity, but we’ll still have the generator.

space heater 

We love this hotel room

My husband and I like to go on short trips.  When we were first married, we would just jump on the motorcycle and travel roads for about an hour and then stop at the first motel we found, to spend the night.  In the morning, we would get up, map out all of the wineries in the area, and make our way home, via the route of wineries, starting closest to where we were.  We did this about once a month, and we always had a blast.  Sometimes, we found the HVAC systems to be far from perfect, but somehow we always managed to enjoy ourselves, whether we had cold and damp rooms, or hot and humid.  Our kids have finally all moved out and we decided to hop on the motorcycle again, and take off on one of our short trips.  It seemed that we could no longer get lost, and most of the wineries were closed.  We found ourselves outside of a brand new casino that had recently opened.  We parked the bike and went into the hotel and booked a room.  The room was luxurious, but it seemed to mirror all of the cheap little motels we used to stop at.  The only difference was the HVAC and there were no windows.  We couldn’t open the curtains and let the sunshine greet us, because the windows opened onto the casino.  The HVAC was perfect, and we had absolutely no problems.  I just wish the HVAC were as good in the casino, but that’s a whole other story.

HVAC installation 

I had a good laugh

Lately, we have been having some pretty cold mid Autumn weather.  Average temperatures are around forty-five, and we’ve been lucky if it gets out of the thirties.  We weren’t prepared for deep freezes yet, but it is upon us.  My husband decided it was time to check all of the air filters and make sure they were clean.  He also called in the HVAC tech to do our maintenance and look for anything that could cause us any trouble during the winter.  The HVAC tech found a few things that could cause us some concern, and he also pointed out some cracks in our ductwork that needed to be sealed.  It didn’t take him very long to complete the work, and I was very pleased with what he charged us.  I had noticed that last year, we had some pretty bad drafts going across our floor, and since the HVAC tech had been here, they had gotten worse, so I called him back again.  After he went over everything, again, he told me that he couldn’t find any reason, as far as our furnace or ductwork, that would create the draft, and he suggested we seal the windows and doors, and hopefully this would help to stop the draft.  My husband checked everything, and then he took my hand and led me to the bedroom and he told me to lift the curtain.  I hadn’t closed the window tightly when I had removed the air conditioning unit.  After we closed and locked the window, the draft was gone, and it gave a good laugh to my husband and the HVAC technician, to whom he had to tell the story.

air conditioning system 

Ways to get rid of radon

How do you get rid of radon once it is already in your home? Nobody wants to have radon in theri home since it is dangerous and can cause lung cancer when breathed in too much. But, once you detect this gas, how do you get rid of it? A good place to start is to make sure that your home is properly sealed. Is there cracks in the windows? Are the doors not flush to the floors? Is there any holes in your ductwork or the basement floor? You want all of those cracks and leaks patched up. Caulk your windows, refit your doors and get ductwork sealing. Also have the cement redone in your basement to make sure there is no air pockets. Radon loves to fit itself in those air pockets and contaminate your whole basement. Next what you can do is get rid of radon through active soil depressurization. What this involves in 4 inch piping in your basement floor. The pipe is installed in the ground and is extended in your walls. Then the exhaust pipe blows out the radon through the an exhaust fan near an outlet. This fan can be still right in your basement in the wall. Or the exhaust pipe can stretch all the way up through your home into the attic. Then the fan is located in the attic and blows the radon right out of your home. It is not too invasive or expensive to deal with either. Removing radon is a top priority, a little cost is worth it for your health.

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Making sure my air is home tight

Nothing good can come from a home that is not airtight. One reason a leaky home is not good is because of the bills. The HVAC system is on and running, then that temperature controlled air flows out of the home. Your HVAC system is killing itself and you are not in total comfort. Another reason a leaky home is bad is that critters can get into your home and cause damage. Another reason is that radon can flow into your air quality as well. What is radon? Radon is a gas that comes from the soil and is literally everywhere. There is always a little bit of radon in the outside air quality. That is alright, it is not ok when the radon gets into your home’s air quality. How can the radon get into your home and poison you? The radon comes in through cracks in your foundation. Radon can be in your basement. The radon comes in through the pores in your cement floor. Also basic entry points are gaps in walls, ceilings and doors. The radon can be anywhere too. The basement could have radon or even your attic. Most homeowners don’t know either. The radon is virtually impossible to detect and is extremely harmful. To fight against radon levels, get your home sealed properly. Redo those cement floors in the basement. Get the foundation fixed up. You don’t want leaks in your air ducts with your HVAC system. An airtight home is safer and also will significantly lower your bills overtime. There is no reason not to seal your home tight.

new radon kits 

Working hard on my upgrades

I am really fortunate that I can manage my entire job from home.  I have no need to dress up in business attire and drive to an office building five days per week.  I can set my own hours, listen to my favorite music, and avoid dealing with annoying coworkers.  I do, however, spend very long hours at my desk, and usually work seven days a week.  In order to be productive, I’ve needed to eliminate distractions and create a comfortable work environment.  I now have a shade over the window so I don’t spend all day watching the squirrels and birds.  I’ve purchased an ergonomic swivel chair and a large desk.  I spent a fortune on upgrades to my heating and cooling system.  Instead of heating and cooling the entire house to the same temperature, I now have the option of zone control.  This allows me to adjust the temperature in my office, without maintaining ideal comfort in a bunch of empty rooms.  I can cater to my personal preference and save money on my monthly energy bills.  I also added a smart thermostat, which gives me access to everything from temperature settings and fan speed to humidity levels, right from my laptop.  I don’t need to get up from chair and interrupt my workday to make adjustments, and I get helpful alerts for maintenance.  The smart thermostat even provides the outside temperature, indoor humidity levels, energy saving tips, and customized programming.  Because my office is so much more comfortable, I don’t mind spending such long hours at my desk.  And, I’m hoping that my lower utility costs will help to recover the investment into the modern HVAC system.  

Ductless heat pump units

About a month ago, my boyfriend and I attended the county fair.  We had a great time checking out the exhibits, eating the food, playing the games and riding the rides.  We saw a live concert and filled out a whole bunch of entries for free stuff.  Neither one of us expected to win anything.  A couple of weeks after the fair, I got a call from a local HVAC contractor, who informed me that I had won a ductless heat pump.  He wanted to schedule a time for the installation, and I made an appointment for several days later.  He told me to choose a location for the heat pump.  At that point, I had not idea what a ductless heat pump actually was.  I needed to go online to figure it out.  Once I read up on all the benefits of a ductless heat pump, I was super excited.  These systems typically costs several thousand dollars, and I got one for free.  Plus, a ductless heat pump combines both heating and cooling capacity, is very compact and exceptionally energy efficient.  Although the unit only handles the temperature control in a single room, it would not be difficult to add multiple units.  There is an outdoor component that is able to manage up to eight indoor air handlers.  The installation of the heat pump took only a few hours, and there was no major renovation or mess.  The unit is modern looking, compact, and operates very quietly.  I  had the heat pump located in the master bedroom, and it has greatly improved comfort.  

heat pump 

The radiant flooring is included

I guess we’ve all seen those crazy people who run into the frigid water and bounce around and say they have done the Polar Bear plunge.  They are crazy because they pay for the privilege to freeze.  I hate to walk across a cold floor in the middle of winter, why would I jump into water that had to have the ice broke, to get into it.  It seems to me that you would go numb, instantly, but then I wouldn’t even try it.  I have carpet on the floor in the winter, and I begged for radiant floor heating for five years.  I wanted to step onto warm and toasty floors and feel the heat go through me.  Maybe I’m a wuss, but every time I put my feet onto that warm floor, I feel like I am living in the lap of luxury.  I have told everyone I know about my radiant floor heating.  Most of them think I am crazy, because I say that it is like living in a kidskin glove .  The air is almost like soft, and the heat is total.  I love my radiant floor heating, and I know I almost didn’t get it.  When my husband saw the cost, he really waffled with the decision.  Since he has seen how well the house is heated, and much less expensive it is to operate than a traditional furnace, he has become a total convert.  We even have zone control and we can regulate the heat in all of the rooms.  He now wishes we had put in the radiant floor heating years ago.

HVAC